Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Aloo Bonda (Potato Fritters)


When we travelled to Kerala in the 80s, my dad always hired a driver for about a week so we could visit extended family, morning to night. We stayed at each house for about an hour and ended up stuffed with fried cuppa and avalose unda. The hot tea was milky and free flowing. On occasion, when we tried to take leave, the hostess would declare that she had just killed a free-range chicken, which had been pecking about the yard.  That move always delayed our departure for a few hours.


I loved watching the world from the back seat of the Hindustan Ambassador, which flew by as a riot of tropical green. At some point, we would see an elephant walking along the road with his trainer, and my siblings and I would scream out, “There’s an E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T!!!” The driver would chuckle wondering, no doubt, “What’s with these crazy Americans?”


When we crossed from the countryside into town, we would pass a main street with a tangle of open-air shops and a movie poster of Mammooty dressed in a mundu. The snack stands sold bananas galore, soda water in hefty glass bottles, and packs of beedi. On a hot day, we would indulge in a bottle of Campa Cola or Orange Crush. Around the corner, there would be a tea shop selling idli, dosa, and a variety of fritters.



Makes 20 to 25

When you crave the comfort of potatoes, try this snack. The crust is crisp and light. The festively colored filling is full of flavor. Be sure to eat the spicy potato fritters while they are still warm.

Spicy Fried Potato Balls - 4


¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon chickpea flour
½ cup water
1¼ teaspoons salt
2½ cups plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
¼ teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon skinned and split urad dhal (black gram)
1 cup finely diced onions
2 tablespoons minced ginger
Half a small jalapeno, quartered
½ cup diced tomatoes
2 cups potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 cup frozen peas



In a small bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the urad dhal and cook until it turns honey brown.

Add the onions, ginger, jalapeno, and stir. Cook until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, turmeric, garlic powder, cumin, cilantro, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.

Add the peas. Remove the jalapeno. Roughly mash the mixture with your hands leaving some of the potatoes in chunks.

Roll the spiced potatoes into 2-inch balls.

Line a large plate with paper towels.

Heat the remaining 2½ cups of oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add a drop of the batter to the oil. When it rises to the top and bubbles around the edges, dip 4 or 5 of the balls in the batter, coating them completely.

Lift out with a fork to allow excess batter to run off, and carefully place in the hot oil.

Cook until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towels to cool. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes and batter.

Serve immediately.

Spicy Fried Potato Balls - Cover
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